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save The Skymaster


‘Save the Skymaster’ is a team of British aircraft enthusiasts focused on getting their C54 Skymaster flying again. They need help to raise £1 million to restore, and get her flying again.  The restoration will keep her flying for another 30+ years when she will be over 100 years old, and on show to over 2 million people annually at major international air displays. 


The C54 Skymaster being restored is of historic and engineering importance.  She took part in three major global conflicts, i.e. World War Two, the Korean War and the Vietnam War as a cargo, troop and hospital transport. 

Front wheel assembly for C54 - Save The Skymaster
People visiting the C54 Skymaster Society booth
Front tyre repair - Save The Skymaster

Save The Skymaster Team.

Sponsorship programme

I was asked to develop and test a sponsorship strategy for the Save The Skymaster Charitable Trust. This created a compelling narrative supported by offers, videos and presentations. Meetings with senior executives in aerospace organisations took place to discuss sponsorship opportunities that resulted in commitment to support the charity.   

The slides shown below are from the corporate sponsorship presentation.

Sponsor Save the Skymaster
Skymaster Sponsorship opportunity
Save The Skymaster sponsorship options

A selection of videos used to inform and progress sponsorship of the restoration project.




history of 56498 and 'Save the Skymaster'

Her navy serial number was 56498.  She was based in the Pacific and flew from her home base in El Toro California to service in Hawaii during WW2.   One of her most important roles was to transport vital blood supplies for MASH stations on the front line.  She flew wounded allied soldiers and prisoners of war to USA facilities for repatriation.


She is not a ‘glamour girl’ like a P51 Mustang or a Spitfire, but a true workhorse.  Historic cargo aircraft such as the C54 and DC3 are often overlooked at air shows in preference to streamlined and glamorous fighters, and better-known bombers.  However, as time goes on and the strategic importance of these aeroplanes becomes better recognised, their status as an iconic tool of war will become embedded in public consciousness. 

Wounded soldiers being loaded onto a Skymaster
Wounded soldiers on a C54 Skymaster
heritage image - Stretchers in fuselage
Milk for Berlin

The C54 served in WW2, Korea and Vietnam conflicts carrying cargo, wounded and repatriated soldiers and medical supplies.  

She is currently configured as a hospital ship, cargo and troop carrier serving operations in the Pacific.  Her current markings however are the Atlantic Division scheme not the Pacific Division. The Atlantic Division is associated with the Berlin Airlift VR6 squadron where C54 aeroplanes played a key role. Three-quarters of the VR6 squadron moved to the UK and Europe to assist with the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49. 

Over Berlin

A C54 delivering food and supplies to Berlin 1948/49.

C54 56498 remained in the Pacific as a cargo and transport aircraft during the Korean War with VMR squadrons. She flew over 11,000 hours and carried over 30,000 troops to the front line. We also know that she carried over 5.5 million tons of cargo during that conflict.  The Vietnam War started to take shape in the mid 1950’s.  C54 56498 was based in Japan at that time.


After the Vietnam War, she was sold and transformed into a civilian tanker sprayer aircraft.  She worked in this role until 1987.  She was sold in 1996 to Atlantic Warbirds in America. This was a group of enthusiasts who wanted to restore a C54 Skymaster and take her on tours around America.  They operated this aircraft very successfully in this capacity for around 6 years.


She came to England in early 2001/02 to feature in a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster film about the Berlin Airlift.  Her scheme was changed to the Atlantic Division for the movie, that why we see her as she is today.  The Atlantic Division scheme will be reverted to the Pacific Division scheme so her colours and coding will be historically correct.


Sadly, in 2002 the film didn’t materialize and she was put up for sale along with another C54.  They were bought by Henry Hyde in 2012/2013.  Unfortunately, one of the C-54’s was scrapped due to her poor condition.  The other C54 was in relatively good condition and suitable for restoration, hence this project with this aircraft.


The scrapped C54 provided spares such as  engines, body fabrics, fixtures and fittings and landing gear, all of which saves time and money. 

save the skymaster Photographs

An image database for social media posts, websites pages and articles was created,

Sponsors and volunteers are invited to get involved and give time, parts, money and expertise. Restoration is needed on the fabric of the airframe, the engines need servicing and avionics replaced. This requires skills that are peculiar to period aeroplanes so retired aero engineers and people with relevant skills are particularly welcome.  


Ongoing funding is vital for this project.  £800,000 to £1 million pounds is needed to complete the project along with volunteers, parts and expertise.


Over £200,000 in cash is committed so they are in good shape to move the project forward.  Once the aeroplane is restored it will have a flying life of another 30+ years. The aeroplane will then be around 100 years old. 


The aeroplane will be funded, managed and maintained as a trust. It will be a valued participant in the international airshow circuit that attracts crowds of over 2 million people every year. 


For more information on the ‘Save The Skymaster’ project, our content services, videos, photography and my fundraising input, please get in touch.  

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